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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shield Nickels 1866-1883



Union and Confederate guns fell silent in April 1865, but the civilian accumulation was slow to give up certain activity acquired during the four years of bloody civil war. No one in the North felt especially charitable toward the South, and few earnestly thoughtful rebuilding what business had existed there before the outbreak of hostilities in 1861.

Specie payments had been suspended by the government in 1862 and pact had not seen the return of grayness or gold coins to circulation. Citizens continued to hoard every forms of nowness that contained wanted metal, and even copper-nickel cents were set divagation for their limited intrinsic value.

During the war the federal government issued series after series of fractional currency. These \"shinplasters\" as they were known, apace soiled in circulation and were unloved by the public. When yet added five-cent issue of fractional nowness was introduced in 1865, it was enough to push Mint Director James Pollock to endorse a five-cent coin prefabricated of nickel.

Pollock had previously been an opponent of fiver coinage. He'd seen firsthand how arduous 12% fiver coins (the 1857-64 cents) were to strike and how the hard, brittle metal broke dies and scraped the Mint's machinery. He also knew how politically persuasive one Joseph Wharton was in the halls of Congress. Wharton owned the largest fiver mine in USA and had lobbied Congress for many years to use the metal in the nation's coinage.

But after the ordinal supply of five-cent down nowness was released to admonishing open opinion, Pollock was finally convinced that the nation's best interests would be served by striking a newborn five-cent strike in nickel, even if it meant adding to the already wide assortment of diminutive denomination coins then in use. These included the half cent, large cent, copper-nickel cent, two-cent piece, fiver three-cent piece, silver three-cent warning and silver half-dime. (Most of these coins were not circulating due to wartime hoarding). Pollock looked at the fiver five-cent warning as a temporary measure-a strike that would circulate and replace the universally unpopular down notes until such a time as the silver half-dime could convey to circulation.

As Chief Engraver it fell to James Longacre to organisation the newborn coin. Various patterns were executed, the most engrossing ones featuring profiles of Washington or Lincoln, but the supply of portraying actualised persons on coinage was far from resolved. In fact it was a particularly huffy subject; the five-cent down nowness the newborn coins would replace depicted the icon of Spencer M. Clark, then nous of the Currency Bureau, not the someone William adventurer as Congress had been led to believe.

Unable to use a portrait, Longacre merely restricted the motif he'd used a couple years earlier on the two-cent piece. Although the adoptive organisation does hit a certain geometric balance, it is artistically weak. Even fiver monopolist carpenter Wharton, the man who stood to make more money than anyone additional from the newborn coin, was disappointed. He described the strike as having \" . . . a tombstone surmounted by a interbreed overhung by activity willows.\"

The organisation was actually a armour with the interbreed of the Order of Calatrava at the top, flanked by a chaplet on both sides. The reverse, patch exclusive designed, was initially controversial. The central device shows a large symbol 5 and is enclosed by cardinal stars with cardinal sets of rays between the stars. At the time of issue, some believed Southern sympathizers had infiltrated the Mint and placed the Confederate \"Stars and Bars\" on the reverse.

The newborn coins seldom struck up well, and more dies were broken striking Shield nickels than all another denominations additional together. During the prototypal digit years of supply the rays were preserved on the reverse, but early in 1867 they were eliminated. as Mint officials believed this organisation surroundings prevented the coins from striking up completely.

As originally proposed, the fiver five-cent warning was to matter not more than 60 grains (or 3.88 grams expressed metrically) and be imperturbable of 75% copper and 25% nickel. The House Coinage Committee intended for the newborn coin's weight to be expressed in metric units but could not alter itself to publicly state so. The incoming metric weight would hit been four grams, but this organisation was mysteriously bypassed, and fivesome grams was the weight adopted. But rather than express the weight in this simple term, the enabling governing required the strike matter 77.16 grains, the arts equivalent of fivesome grams!

Shield nickels were struck exclusive at the metropolis Mint, and more than 126 million were produced from 1866 until the incoming organisation change in 1883. For such a short-lived series there are a surprising number of rarities. The digit key issues are from 1877 and 1878, when exclusive proofs were struck. Among business strikes, the years 1879-1881 are baritone currency dates and worth large premiums in all grades. There are digit overdates, the 1879/8-an overdated proof-and the 1883/2.

Proofs were struck every assemblage and include digit of the most essential 19th century rarities-the proof 1867 fiver with rays. Only 25 pieces are believed to hit been struck.

Counterfeits are plentiful direction the dates 1870-76, and they were widely circulated in the New York-New milker area during the 1870s. They are not deceptive, however, as the organisation differs slightly from veritable coins.

Striking details are often ill-defined on Shield nickels, and high grade coins that are weakly struck staleness be graded by the amount of mint splendour still remaining. The points to prototypal exhibit wear are the interbreed and leaves on the obverse and the symbol 5 on the reverse.

Shield nickels are composed by both date and type collectors. Although a relatively shortlived series, it's challenging to amass by date because of the scarce, baritone currency issues. Assembling sets of full struck coins by date, however, crapper be somewhat frustrating. Type collectors commonly acquire digit warning each of the Rays and No Rays design.

In 1883 the Shield fiver was dropped in favor of digit featuring Charles Barber's newborn Greco-Roman nous of Liberty. The Shield nickel, though, was the prototypal fiver five-cent piece, and patch the organisation has changed several times since 1866, the basic 5-gram \"nickel\" has remained a mainstay of our recent coinage system.

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